BMA suspends junior doctors' strike

Junior doctors strike earlier this year. Credit: PA

The British Medical Association (BMA) has suspended the junior doctors' strike which was due to take place across England next week.

In a statement, it said it had called off the five-day strike set for September 12 because NHS England said it would not be able to "cope with the notice period for industrial action given".

Last week the BMA announced training medics would perform a series of strikes by withdrawing labour, including emergency care, for a week each month until the end of the year.

Patient safety remains doctors' primary concern. For the first time in this dispute NHS England have told us that a service under such pressure cannot cope with the notice period for industrial action given. Our hospitals are chronically under staffed. Our NHS is desperately underfunded. We have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.

Statement from Junior Doctor's Committee chair, Ellen McCourt
Junior doctors protest outside the Department of Health in April. Credit: PA

The General Medical Council (GMC) welcomed the move by the BMA, saying they would now have more time to "plan for reduced medical cover, thereby reducing the impact and potential harm to patients".

The BMA added Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is still planning to impose the contract, which is the cause of the strikes, on junior doctors.

This does not absolve the Secretary of State. He continues to ignore our request to stop the imposition. He continues to force upon junior doctors a contract that discriminates against carers, parents, doctors with disabilities and women, a contract that devalues our time and a contract that disincentives careers in our most struggling specialties. He continues to strive towards an uncosted, unfunded, unstaffed extended seven day service. He continues to disregard the concerns junior doctors have about staffing shortages and patient safety.

Statement from Junior Doctor's Committee chair, Ellen McCourt

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hunt condemned the strikes saying the way to resolve the issue was "not through confrontation" which "harms patients"- and urged junior doctors to "put patients first".

The strike dates planned for October, November, and December are still planned to go ahead, with the BMA adding that before October's strike Mr Hunt "must use this time to listen and act".

The BMA has said it will call off the strikes if the Government agrees to not impose the new contract.

The BMA said it will call off the strikes if the Government scraps the new contracts. Credit: PA

Downing Street welcomed the news the strike had been called off.

The Government's position has been that we didn't want the strike to take place. The BMA, as we have repeatedly said, should be putting patients first and not playing politics.

Number 10 spokesman

Six strikes have already taken place during the lengthy dispute.

In May it looked as though a breakthrough had been reached after both sides agreed to a new deal.

However, in July the Government announced it would impose a new contract after junior doctors and medical students voted to reject the contract brokered between the BMA and the Government.